Not all integrations are created equal, and how your integration works can seriously impact productivity and ROI

The days when CRM systems and marketing automation platforms were simply nice-to-haves are long gone. Today, any marketing team not using these two technologies will have a difficult time keeping up with cross-channel engagement along the customer journey.

While both CRM systems and marketing automation platforms provide value on their own, they’re infinitely more powerful when connected. Therefore, as we move past the adoption phase for these two technologies, the next phase of maturity will focus on getting the connection between them right.

Breaking Down the Importance of a CRM-Marketing Automation Integration

Integrating your CRM system and marketing automation platform is important for scaling your marketing efforts. For instance, without such an integration, you’ll end up spending valuable time and resources manually inputting marketing leads into the CRM system. In addition to being unscalable, this approach is error-prone (as is any manual activity), hinders productivity and limits reporting capabilities.

Given the importance of this integration, it’s surprising that more solution providers aren’t working to ensure their systems play well with as many systems on the other side as possible. But it turns out that some marketing automation providers, like Pardot, are actually decreasing the number of CRM systems with which they natively integrate.

4 Reasons Why a Native CRM-Marketing Automation Integration Matters

Although workarounds are possible if your CRM system and marketing automation platform don’t integrate natively, you’ll quickly find that these workarounds are less than ideal. At best, they’re a hassle to manage. At worst, they hinder overall productivity and limit the ROI of these solutions as a result.

For example, Cireson, a world leader in Microsoft Cloud and System Center, recently shared its experience with the shortcomings of using a workaround for its CRM-marketing automation integration. Specifically, the company had to use two third-party tools to pass data between its CRM system (SugarCRM) and its marketing automation platform (HubSpot). As a result, the marketing team had to perform several tasks manually, which decreased productivity and left data falling through the cracks. Additionally, the need to use third-party tools to make the integration work added to the overall costs, which lowered ROI even further.

Recognizing that there had to be a better way, Cireson recently made the switch to a native integration and saw the value it was previously missing out on almost immediately.

As the Cireson marketing team learned, the value that comes from a native CRM-marketing automation integration can not be overlooked. Having seen the difference, the team highlights four key reasons why a native integration adds so much value:

1) Ensuring Sales-Marketing Alignment

The divide between sales and marketing is an age-old problem, but it’s one that marketing automation platforms have helped to overcome. For instance, marketing automation platforms help bridge this gap by making communication between the two teams more seamless, improving accountability, introducing standardized processes for lead follow-ups and creating a single source of truth for reporting. In order for all of these benefits to be possible though, the CRM system and marketing automation platform need to work together, and they need to do so in a seamless fashion to ensure that data transfer is accurate and timely.

2) Allowing for True Automation

Today’s marketers have a lot on their hands. So much, that it’s nearly impossible to do it all without some sort of automation. For example, it’s not really feasible for marketers to go into the marketing automation platform each day to manually determine which leads have enough engagement to pass to sales and then manually pass those leads over. The integration between your marketing automation platform and CRM system should handle that automatically — but it will only really be hands off for marketers with a native integration. Without a native integration, you’ll still be left with some manual tasks, and those tasks will ultimately decrease productivity. Additionally, it’s very possible that some leads will fall through the cracks and others will have a lag time between when they’re ready for sales and when sales actually knows to reach out to them. It’s not anyone’s fault, that’s just how things happen when they need to be done manually. With a native integration, however, you can automate the entire process to ensure a complete and timely hand-off so that sales has clear priorities and a history of engagement for each lead. In other words, you get access to technology that gets out of the way so that you can stop spending time on tedious and error-prone manual work and start focusing on more strategic efforts.

3) Better Reporting

Reporting is of utmost importance to modern marketing organizations. It helps you determine what you’re doing well, what needs improvement and how your operations are growing and maturing over time. And in a world where many marketing teams are now tied to performance-based KPIs, having accurate and timely reporting is critical. A native CRM-marketing automation integration makes a big difference when it comes to reporting in two ways. First, it tells a more complete picture of what’s going on by connecting what happens on the marketing side with what happens on the sales side. For example, it helps accurately attribute pipeline movement to marketing by tracking engagement with emails, content, your website and more and by following leads throughout their entire lifecycle. Second, it automates this reporting so that you don’t have to spend weeks poring through data to see results and tout success to the rest of the organization.

4) Cost Savings

Last but certainly not least, a native CRM-marketing automation integration can lead to significant cost savings. Plain and simple, two solutions that integrate natively require no additional costs on that front. In contrast, if the two solutions don’t integrate natively, you’ll have to pay for one or more third-party systems to get the connection running. As Cireson learned, this workaround can cost thousands of dollars a year. And not only does the workaround cost more, but because the workaround limits the value of the solutions in the ways described above, the ROI on each is far less to begin with. The added cost of third-party tools only compounds this lower ROI even further.

Getting Serious About Marketing Technology

Over the past several years, technology has become critical to achieving marketing success. And as we enter the next phase of maturity for marketing technology, a native integration between your CRM system and marketing automation platform is an absolute must. Not only does this native integration lower costs and management requirements, but it also exponentially increases productivity and overall value, ultimately delivering a much higher ROI.